BILOXI, Miss. —
The Coast Guard is investigating whether a dredge pipe to replenish Deer Island contributed to a fatal boat wreck.
Mark Barhanovich’s boat hit something that flipped his outboard motor into the boat, where the propeller hit his back; the Biloxi man died in the 1 1/2 hours it took to get him to Ocean Springs Hospital, state investigators have said.
The plastic pipe is being investigated as a possible contributor, Coast Guard Cmdr. Scott Muller in Mobile, Ala., told the Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/PyZ6Fh ) last week. It runs about three-quarters of a mile between the island and a barge anchored in the Mississippi Sound. Whether the pipe floats or is submerged depends on whether dredged sand is being pumped through it.
Muller says it is now clearly marked with lighted pilings and buoys. He wouldn’t comment on whether investigators are looking into if it always has been marked that way.
Pilings have marked its path since CF Bean Dredging Co. of Belle Chasse, La., installed it in June. They are widely enough spaced to tempt recreational boaters to run between them, said Greg Hebert of Amberjack Charters in Biloxi.
“Anyone taking off in a small boat for Horn Island early in the morning has a 50-50 chance of hitting it,” Hebert said.
Boaters told the newspaper they have hit the pipe, damaging or destroying motors and the transoms where they were attached.
The Deer Island project is winding down, a state port official said last week. It uses sand dredged as part of a $38 million Archer Western contract to build 24 acres at the Port of Gulfport.
The pipe and barge will remain while Barhanovich’s death is investigated, said Joe Conn, director of disaster recovery at the port.
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com